Website spotlight: Teach your physicians, staff proper social media protocol

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 13, 2012

Navigating the new world of social media is challenging for many professions, but perhaps none more so than the medical profession, where physicians and other healthcare professionals must balance a tell-all online culture with the HIPAA Privacy Rule's mandate to protect patient privacy.

With their ever-increasing popularity, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter(tm) blur the lines between private and professional identities. Physicians must carefully consider their online lives and recognize that they're navigating a public space that can get them into trouble, say two Boston physicians.

Arash Mostaghimi, MD, MPA, and Bradley H. Crotty, MD, physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, offered some recommendations in their "ideas and opinions" piece published April 19, 2011, in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Unlike previous advances in communication, such as the telephone and e-mail, the inherent openness of social media and self-publication, combined with improved online searching capabilities, can complicate the separation of professional and private digital personae," they wrote.   

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